The Nuclear Midgets have succeeded in delaying a consensus till Sept 5. at least. Does that suffice for them as a victory for their domestic audience? What they need is to be able to tell their domestic audiences, that they
a. stood up for their values
b. stood up to the big brother
c. had an effect on the outcome
d. there are more of these knights, who can testify to it, that we did all we could
Then there is the NPA lobby. The minimum US would need to give them is
a. they were able to mobilize several countries with their campaign
b. these countries were able to effect some change in the original draft
b. they forced US to pay more attention to the non-proliferation issues
The above would require some changes in the wording of the draft.
Anything however, which is substantial, and goes against the Indian red lines
, would be a sure give away of American duplicitous game, and India should walk away from the deal.
MMS needs to be told, that he will not be jeered and mocked if this deal falls through. India can walk away from the deal with her head high. It is the USA, which will bear the cost, of not having been able to push this deal through NSG.
India and USA have the J18 Understanding and USA agreed to the initial draft. That means they reached an agreement with India on the terms of the waiver. After that it is USA's burden to get all other countries on board. The point is, why would India negotiate with USA to start with, simply because it is USA which proudly claims, that it can force changes in international rules. If it can not do it, this time, that means those claims are not worth two cents.
India can help USA in trying to fulfill the demands of the domestic audiences of the Nuclear Midgets and the minimum sop to the NPA Lobby, but nothing more than that.
The Negotiating Team may now go into the Kamal Nath Mode and not concede anything. There is no problem with that.
The Nuclear Midgets are aware that if they let USA down in this case, USA would lose face and NSG would be ripped apart. There will be no Russian Roulet from them. India does not need to worry. If US intentions are honorable wrt India, then the nuclear deal with go through on Sept 5.
USA wanted this deal with India. That much is clear. Otherwise what is the need of the Circus! This however could have changed over the last 2-3 weeks.
a) The Georgia Incident showed that Russia is again a hard-knuckles Opponent and NATO alone may not be able to stand up to Russia with American forces depleted and spread thin. Question is: was George W. Bush's visit to China a repeat of Nixon's voyage in '71? Is the price to cozy up to the Lizard, letting Indo-US Nuclear Deal fall through?
b) China surely gave George W. Bush its version of shock and awe at the Beijing Olympics. Is George W. Bush awed enough to give away Asia's keys to China again?
Of course this can be paranoia only and one should not read too much into it, but a China-USA entente is the one thing which can overturn the whole deal.
So if our reading is that USA has not run away into the Dragon's hug, then I would say the Indian negotiators have nothing to fear. If USA has done so, then the Deal doesn't matter anyway.